Question:

Good evening. I am a 53-year-old male and I was hearing that I should be taking fish oil, a multivitamin, B-12, vitamin D, magnesium, and creatine. Do you agree? And what do you recommend in terms of dosage for the fish oil, vitamin d, magnesium and creatine? Do you recommend any others as well? 

Thank you for your time.

– Jeff 

Answer:

If your multivitamin (usually has minerals too) supplement provides close to 100% of the Daily Value for micronutrients, then you probably don’t need additional vitamin B12 or D. Most “once daily” multi’s are meant to cover the bases of micronutrient needs, but they vary greatly. A quick glance at a few widely available products (Centrum for Men, One a Day Men’s Formula, Nature Made Multi for Him) reveals they are rather low in magnesium, which is on purpose because the risk of toxicity is greater from supplemental magnesium than from foods. Though the Daily Value for magnesium is 420 mg for men, the maximum advised from supplements is only 350 mg daily1. Get the remainder of your magnesium intake from good sources such as almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, shredded wheat cereal, soymilk, black beans, edamame, peanut butter, wheat bread, avocado, baked potato, brown rice and plain yogurt1. 

Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). There is no set Adequate Intake for EPA and DHA, only for another omega-3: alpha lipoic acid (ALA) from plant sources2. It’s recommended to eat fish twice per week and walnuts, chia seed or flaxseed daily to obtain omega-3 naturally from the diet. Generally, a combined EPA+DHA dose of 300-500 mg per day is suggested for anti-inflammation but higher levels may be warranted for certain health conditions. For cardio protection there may be benefit for African-Americans and non-fish eaters to take 1,000 mg supplemental omega-3 daily3, and higher doses by prescription. 

Creatine works by providing ready energy for muscle contractions in the form of ATP. Whether or not you’d benefit from a creatine supplement depends on your exercise routine and goals. About 3-6 grams pre-workout has been shown to increase creatine stores and affect strength gains accompanying weight training4, and is relatively safe to take. You can get creatine from protein-rich foods and your body makes some, thus it’s not worth supplementing if you don’t participate in short duration high-intensity resistance exercise.  

References: 

  1. Magnesium – Health Professional’s Fact Sheet. (October 11, 2019) Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/  Accessed 12.30.2019
  2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Health Professional’s Fact Sheet. (October 17, 2019) Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/ Accessed 12.30.2019 
  3. Harvard Women’s Health Watch (April, 2019) Should You Be Taking An Omega-3 Supplement? https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-be-taking-an-omega-3-supplement  Accessed 12.30.2019 
  4. Hall, M and Trojian, TH. Creatine Supplementation. Current Sports Medicine Reports. July/August 2013; 12(4): 240–244.  doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31829cdff2 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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